Role play is an effective learning tool as it encourages children to become active participants in their learning. They can move about, put themselves in someone else’s shoes, perhaps wear a costume and use props, communicate and make decisions in character, which will allow them to take risks and explore different areas. Learning from role play is therefore far more likely to stick with children than for example doing exercise sheets, mostly because they will be much more willing and enthusiastic!
As a teacher, it is a great sign if you see the children you teach in the playground acting out what they have just learnt. This shows that you have grabbed their attention and engaged their curiosity.
Most role play areas will reflect a real life context. Role play is therefore an effective way for children to make sense of the world around them. Setting up a doctor’s room, supermarket, police station or even swimming pool will allow children to explore these real life contexts. In any role play area there can be opportunities to develop children’s writing and Mathematic skills. Just leaving a pen and paper out will encourage children to write or ‘mark-make’ without a fear of getting something wrong. For example, when setting up a supermarket, you could make blank shopping lists for the children to write on or give them pre-made shopping lists for them to collect items– so 3 oranges 5 lemons – this will encourage younger children to practice counting for a purpose other than assessment in a classroom.